Amelia Island Plantation Blog


Amelia Island condo renovation –
A property owner’s 5 keys to success

This is a story that begs to be heard amidst the energy of Omni Amelia Island Plantation's re-imagination campaign.  It’s a story on a smaller scale, but has relevance nonetheless – especially because of all the local talent used to complete the project. The author, Diane Terry, is originally from New England (CT and MA). She and photographer Arthur Fasciani bought their condo or villa at Amelia Island Plantation in May of 2011 while vacationing on the Plantation. A year ago, we bought a 3 bedroom, 3 bath condo at Club Villa on Amelia Island Plantation. Built in 1974, the property was showing its age. Like a kindly grandmother, it had raised two generations of (vacationing) offspring and was tired. The plumbing was corroded, the floorboards were sagging, and the ceilings were low, water stained and “pop-corned.” Nothing was wrong with the ‘bones’ per se; but it was an interior sliding into disrepair. Our challenge was to bring it online as a high-quality, 21st century, amenity-laden rental property within two months. We missed our goal by two weeks - the contractors arrived on Monday, May 9th and departed on Friday, July 22nd. It took us 10 weeks to complete a project others speculated would take 10 months. Add to the mix that we didn’t know any local contractors, processes or suppliers, AND we had to manage the project, furnish the unit, and re-equip it while living 1,000 miles away in Connecticut. FIVE KEYS TO SUCCESS RENOVATING A CONDO As we look back, knowing what we know now, we see  5 keys to success of our condo renovation- over and above normal project management - that may help new or existing Amelia Island Plantation property owners in their own condo "redevelopment, re-imagining and renewal." # 1 – Get Condo Association and Amelia Island Management (AIM) on board early The key reason for our success was the early and personal involvement of our Amelia Island Management property manager (Steve Mehas) and members of our condo association management team (John Cook and Tom Hollingsworth). They all worked together to help identify and remove (potential) roadblocks. Approvals were a breeze with this “A” team at our backs. And, when the time came to deal with our landscaping challenge (aka our overgrown front courtyard), Steve Mehas recommended we use Martex. Working with them, we redesigned the courtyard, pulling out all the overgrown plants, turning off the automatic sprinklers and installing a rock garden and two huge planters with drip feeders to reduce the amount of water consumed.  We created a maintenance-free outdoor space, welcoming and functional - perfect for non-residents like ourselves. And we did it economically and quickly. # 2 - Stay on property during the demolition process and the first week of framing As the walls came down, the “gotchas” surfaced. By renting a small condo nearby, we were within earshot of the contractor to facilitate the decision-making process. Most of the important considerations and decisions arose during the first two weeks. Our general contractor, Dewayne Crews (DCI Dewayne Crews, Inc.), was recommended to us the staff at Amelia’s Attic. This was the first of many local referrals.It was our intent to remove two key walls between the kitchen and dining room so that we could open up the entire space to the marsh view. Once the walls were down, we worked together with Mr. Crews and his cabinet maker, Mike Corbitt (Corbitt Cabinet, Manor, GA), to lay out the kitchen island and cabinets. We also thought through the costs and implications of repiping for an island wet bar and raising the ceiling to open up the space and add recessed lighting.  Being on-site those first few weeks saved us needless time, frustration and cost. # 3 - Get to know your neighbors Nothing grabs a community’s attention like a dumpster parked outside a condo unit. Within days, neighbors began to circle the property, creeping closer and closer - especially in the early evening after the contractors had left. It was great fun to be inside the unit and watch people step gingerly across the patio, cup their hands around their faces and peer inside at the mess. Oftentimes we were in the unit during these expeditions and would surprise our guests by opening the slider and saying "hi."   Getting to know our neighbors and enlisting their support, insight and experience was essential to our project. We were not the first to renovate a Club Villa, and our neighbors led us through many other units showing us (and our contractor Mr. Crews) how similar challenges had been met. The ‘local’ knowledge about the structure and its idiosyncrasies saved us time and money. We also made friends who’ve become even better friends as we begin to spend more and more time down here. Often, in the evening, we sit outside on our patio and people drop by to chat, catch up and share a glass of wine. It’s a magical time, a story repeated (no doubt) year after year in the life of the Plantation. # 4 - Bring in real estate and rental professionals to give advice As newcomers to the area who had never owned and rented out a vacation home, we knew we needed help. Even before the closing, we invited a small sample of local experts to tour the condo and advise us on the ‘must haves’ for rental and sales success. The results surprised us: spend your money on ‘soft’ materials (bedding and drapes), wall-mounted HDTVs, and don’t worry too much about a baking or roasting facility in the kitchen because renters go out for dinner regularly. Though it was hard to contemplate re-selling our new property, inviting a real estate salesperson to advise us on how to get the biggest bang for our renovation dollar was, to us, as important as long-term care insurance.  Equally important was the invitation to the manager of Omni's Long-Term Rental Program to assess the location and suitability of our new condo for their monthly rental program – a program we’d used many times in the past to "sample the lifestyle." # 5 - Ask local business owners for recommendations on non-competing services Word-of-mouth references, especially in a small town with which you’re unfamiliar, are a no-brainer. While shopping for furniture and accessories, we’d ask for advice on countertops and get referred to a local shop eager for business - Savage Stone, owned by Brenda Savage.  Or, while looking at shower doors at Lee & Cates Glass, we’d ask about pavers and patios and get directed to Lynda Dahl, the owner of Imetry, Inc., a place which had been supplying stone to local properties so long that they knew the ins and outs of the architectural review board process. Talk about a timesaver! We’re not ‘big box’ fans and much prefer working with local shops and services. We also like the concept of recycling “things” and bought half of our living room furniture from a local consignment shop, Amelia’s Attic. Jennifer Gedeon Crews, the store owner’s daughter worked with us to outfit our new space.  Using consignment furniture alongside new furniture and favored items from up north, we created a funky, comfortable environment. Throughout the process we came to know each and every street corner on 8th, 14th, Sadler and Centre streets - a wonderful way to begin to call a place our own. Now, a year later, we know all the shortcuts and many of the proprietors by name. It’s a nice feeling and really makes our second home a "home." A takeaway thought The biggest difference between renovating a condominium and a single family home, while obvious to many, was less apparent to us. All our lives we’d lived in single family homes; when it came time to renovate, we’d do whatever we wanted, with little consideration of anything but the local building codes and our own ideas. It’s different with a condominium, however - especially one in a larger community like Amelia Island Plantation. There are guidelines, covenants, approvals and process to deal with. Only in hindsight did we discover that by turning first to our condo association board and Amelia Island Management (AIM), we’d taken the guesswork out of our project, thus saving ourselves time, money and aggravation. Local Contractor List General Contractor - DCI, Dewayne Crews Inc., Yulee, (904) 557-8406 Patio - Imetry Inc., Lynda Dahl, Fernandina Beach, (904) 753-3380 Furniture/Consignment - Amelia's Attic, Jennifer Gedeon Crews, Fernandina Beach, (904) 277-2095 Granite countertops - Savage Stone, Brenda Savage, Fernandina Beach, (904) 277-3524 Kitchen and bath cabinetry - Corbitt Cabinet, Mike Corbitt, Manor, GA, (912) 285-8601 Written and submitted by  Diane Terry "After" photos taken by Arthur Fasciani

Sea turtle hatchlings on Amelia Island

On Amelia Island, the protected sea turtle species nesting season begins in May and ends in October. Sea turtle eggs start to hatch in July. The most common type of sea turtles that lay eggs here are loggerheads but we also have green sea turtles and leatherback sea turtles that nest on our beach.  Nests are marked off with orange tape and the date laid is marked on the post, please do not disturb the marked off areas. After the eggs have been laid, they take about 55 days to hatch. During this time, the naturalists at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Nature Center ask that bright lights (including flashlights) are kept off the beach.  If you spot a sea turtle, you should not disturb her or try to put her back in the water. Sandcastles should always be filled in after playing; hatchlings get stuck in the holes and are easy prey for predators. Please also keep in mind that any litter left on the beach can blow into the ocean and kill sea turtles and other marine life.  If you notice any sea turtles that you believe to be injured or deceased, please call the Nature Center at (904) 321-5082.  There are numerous groups who help with the research of these unique reptiles.  If you would like to observe as the volunteers at the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch help the baby turtles, visit www.ameliaislandseaturtlewatch.com.  Click on “excavation schedule” to find the location and time. If you have questions or want to learn more about sea turtles, contact the Nature Center and ask about our Sea Turtle Discovery tour!

July 27, 2012 - Leave a comment

Nature

Northern Florida Regional Tennis Championship Host

Anytime over 350 tennis players converge on one tennis facility it makes for a special event and this was certainly  the case this past weekend at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Racquet Park. As a director of tennis you always want your facility to be busy and when the United States Tennis Association (USTA) asked us to bid on hosting the Northern Florida Regional Championship, we jumped on the idea. This event bought together teams from Duval, Lean, Escambia, Okaloosa, and Walton counties in Northern Florida that had won their local league, and now they were competing to be northern regional champions earning the right to play in Daytona for a state title. One of the unique aspects of tennis is that the USTA has developed a player rating system, the National Tennis Rating Program, that allows  players of all skill levels to compete as a team in a fun, and fair league situation and have the opportunity to win a state or national title.  There's almost no other sport for adults that have this option. Case in point, some of these teams comprised of players that had been playing less than a year while other matches saw young men  fresh out of college battling with wily veterans with many years experience. Over the three days of play there was over 350 matches played and many hard fought victories and close losses, the highlight for me was seeing the intensity on these players faces in the middle of their matches. During the week they were mothers, fathers, executives, teachers, cleaners, but come this weekend they were all fighting for their piece of the action, their own little Wimbledon and it showed in their determination and pride on the court, regardless of the ability level. For Cliff Drysdale Tennis and the Omni Amelia Island Plantation this was a great event to host and have so many tennis players converge on Amelia Island.  It has been a few years since this has happened and we aim to host more of these events in the future. For information on playing in a local USTA team or league please contact myself (904) 277 5151, scolebourne@omnihotels.com or visit ameliaislandtennis.com.

July 24, 2012 - Leave a comment

Tennis

Meet Bob the Great Blue Heron

Bob the great blue heron loves the Nature Center at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation! His favorite thing to do is to sit by the turtle feeding dock and wait patiently for visitors to come down to feed the turtles. When you throw the food out to the turtles, the fish come to surface to steal a bite. When Bob sees the sneaky fish trying to steal food, he spears them quickly with his long beak and then swallows them whole! He loves turtle feeding time because not only do the turtles get full bellies but so does he! Great blue herons are the largest wading bird on Amelia Island. They stand around 4 feet tall with a wingspan of over 6 feet but only weigh about 5 pounds. Great blue herons feed in freshwater ponds as well as salt water marshes on Amelia Island. They eat fish, crabs, shrimp and even lizards, frogs, and baby turtles. Mostly solitary birds, they wade patiently in shallow  waters for their prey to swim or walk by and then strike with their large, sharp beak.  Great blue herons can eat prey that is 4 times the width of their neck and usually swallow prey whole.    If you would like to learn more about great blue herons or other magnificent wading birds at Amelia Island Plantation, the Nature Center at the oceanfront resort offers an educational Birds of Amelia tour. Call for tour availability at 904-321-5082. Come visit the Nature Center, open to the public, to feed the turtles or meet Bob the blue heron and his natural friends!

July 20, 2012 - Leave a comment

Nature

Top 10 Amelia Island Restaurant Recommendations

I have qualified myself as an Amelia Island restaurant connoisseur based on my love for food and dining at the island's local eateries for the last seven years.  Outside of our restaurants on the Omni Amelia Island Plantation, Amelia Island offers an amazing selection of restaurants featuring speciality, homemade dishes, local seafood, outdoor dining, and spectacular service. Whether you're looking for a romantic meal paired with a fine wine by Roberto at España or a casual sandwich and cold beer on the garden patio at Café Karibo, there's something for everyone on this barrier island.  Below is a list of my top ten Amelia Island restaurant recommendations but a more extensive list of Amelia Island dining can be found here. Bon appétit! 1. España Restaurant & Tapas Specializing in traditional flavors from Spain & Portugal with enticing tapas, seafood and wine list. 22 S 4th St, Fernandina Beach • (904) 261-7700 * Try the goat cheese salad, Gambas Mozambique (Shrimp Mozambique style) tapas, Mero a Costa Brava (Spicy Grouper) entree or the Paella Marinera (Seafood Paella). 2. Café Karibo An eclectic menu in a friendly, relaxed setting with garden patio and Cafe Karibrew home brew. 27 N 3rd St, Fernandina Beach • (904) 277-5269 * Try the spicy Thai noodles, pig and apple sandwich or the turkey meatloaf. 3. Bar  Zin Quaint neighborhood American bistro and wine bar. 4924 First Coast Hwy, Fernandina Beach • (904) 310-6620 * Try the local shrimp salad roll and frites with truffle oil and Parmesan cheese 4. 29 South Eats Chic bistro with casual farm to table cuisine using fresh ingredients sourced from local fisherman, farms and on-site garden. 29 S 3rd St, Fernandina Beach • (904) 277-7919 * Try Sunday brunch or the lobster corn dog starter, fried Chicken with honey and cracked pepper or the coffee doughnuts for dessert. 5. Kelley's Courtyard Café Family friendly café offering homemade soups, salads and sandwiches in a warm and welcoming courtyard. 19 S 3rd St, Fernandina Beach • (904) 432-8213 * Try the seafood enchiladas or fried oysters. 6. T-Rays Burger Station A local favorite for breakfast and lunch in an old Exxon gas station. 202 S 8th St, Fernandina Beach • (904) 261-6310 * Try the T-Ray burger or yummy breakfast menu. 7. Pablo's Mexican Restaurant & Cantina Mexican-style food in a friendly and fun atmosphere with full bar and open-air courtyard. 12 N 2nd St, Fernandina Beach • (904) 261-0049 * Try the organic margarita and fresh guacamole. 8. Fancy Sushi Fresh sushi and hibachi grill menu with friendly service. 1478 Sadler Rd, Fernandina Beach • (904) 261-9855 * Try the lucky dragon eel or volcano roll . 9. Moon River Pizza Amazing hand tossed pizza and specialty salads in an urban atmosphere.  925 S 14th St Fernandina Beach • (904) 321-3400 * Try the Greek salad, white pizza or a custom calzone. 10. LuLu's at the Thompson House Fresh, fine seafood dishes using local shrimp and fish with attention to detail. 11 S 7th St, Fernandina Beach • (904) 432-8394 * Try the steamed clams or shrimp and grits. Honorable Mentions: Tasty's Burgers & Fries - Homemade hamburgers and specialty fries Arte Pizza - Wood fired pizza and Italian food Happy Tomato Café - Casual BBQ and sandwiches in outdoor courtyard Joe's 2nd Street Bistro - "Like being invited to the home of a fine chef" Le Clos - French delicious Provençal dishes Timoti's Fry Shak - Fried local and wild caught seafood in casual, outdoor setting Gourmet Gourmet - Neighborhood style gourmet shop, bakery and deli

July 19, 2012 - Leave a comment

Community, Dining

G.O. K.I.D.S. School Supply Drive for Nassau County

Omni Amelia Island Plantation is once again working with the Nassau County Volunteer Center's Corporate Volunteer Council on the G.O. K.I.D.S (Giving Our Kids Important Daily Supplies) school supply drive!  The 12th annual project collects donations of school supplies for Nassau County public schools.  Donations are being accepted July 9th through August 13th throughout Nassau County.  Please pickup backpacks, notebooks, paper, glue sticks, crayons, #2 pencils, scissors, pocket folders or other daily school supplies and drop-off at one of the locations below.  Teachers and guidance personnel distribute supplies to students most in need and all supplies collected stay in our local public school system.  Over the last 11 years the G.O. K.I.D.S. project has raised over $120,000 worth of donations and supplies given to the public school and teachers in our own local community!  Omni Amelia Island Plantation is proud to support this worthy cause again in 2012 and is accepting donations at the Associate Services office.  For more information about how to help students here in Nassau County, call the Volunteer Center at 904.261.2771 or email ncvcfb@aol.com. Drop-off donation locations July 9 - August 13 o Omni Amelia Island Plantation - Associate Services o Century 21/John T. Ferreira Insurance o City of Fernandina Beach - City Hall o Nassau County Volunteer Center o First Coast Community Bank o First Federal Bank of Florida o Golf Club of Amelia Island o Amelia Dental Group o VyStar Credit Union o CBC National Bank o Winn Dixie - Callahan o Dollar General - Callahan o Westside Journal - Callahan o Walgreens Drug Store - Callahan o Nassau County Record - Callahan o Public Libraries in Callahan, Hilliard and Bryceville o Callahan Town Hall / Hilliard Town Hall o Hilliard Recreation Center o Hilliard Pharmacy o Also supported by Rayonier and RockTenn

July 10, 2012 - Leave a comment

Community

“The trainer’s trainer” – Meet Ed Bowe of the
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Golf Academy

The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Golf Academy is led by class A-14 PGA Member and Hank Haney PRO 5 Certified Instructor, Ed Bowe.  With over 20 years of experience, Ed “the trainer’s trainer,” has traveled the world bringing his state-of-the-art teaching and learning theories to the most prestigious golf schools and golf resorts around. Under the tutelage of legends like John Jacobs and Hank Haney, Ed has mastered every aspect of the game, making him one of the most sought after golf experts in the country. From ESPN to Golf Digest, when the leaders in the sport of golf want proven instructional techniques, they turn to Ed Bowe.  With his uncanny ability to ascertain how to correct a golfer’s swing within a mere minute, Ed’s signature instructional style transcends skill level, and resonates with even the most novices of players. So whether it’s private lessons, group clinics, or golf school, whatever your needs, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Golf Academy with Ed Bowe is the answer.  Let's get to know director of instruction Ed Bowe a  little better... What is your idea of perfect happiness? Standing in a stream with my flyrod and trout are rising all around me. Who are your heroes in real life? Jack Nicklaus influenced my decision to go into the golf business and my mom and dad gave me the tools with their parenting to excel and go forward into my career. Which talent would you most like to have? Play the guitar. What is your motto? "Today is a great day!" Which historical figure do you most identify with? Will Rodgers.  He was able to connect with almost everyone he encountered and he made things that seemed complicated become simple to understand. What is your greatest extravagance? Living here on our beautiful Amelia Island. On what occasion do you lie? About my weight. What is your greatest regret? Not making it to the PGA Tour. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Having a family, wife and three awesome kids. What is your most treasured possession? Jack Nicklaus autographed 5lb notes.  The UK issued a 5lb note with Jack Nicklaus's picture holding the British Open Trophy on it.  I ordered two and sent them to Jack Nicklaus and he signed them for me. What is your best golf score? In July 2009 I scored a 63 on the Amelia Island Plantation Long Point Golf Course What is your best general golf tip? GASP before every golf shot...GRIP, AIM, STANCE, POSTURE What is your favorite golf course ever played? Spyglass Hill Golf Course Monterey, CA.  It was 1984, we played the course and after the round the Olympic Torch held by a runner went trotting by!  It was an amazing day! What is your favorite Omni Amelia Island Plantation golf hole?  #16 Ocean Links What are you most looking forward to with Omni's reimagination renovation? The new oceanview lobby and large pool area! Schedule your lesson or connect with Ed today!  Omni AIP Golf Academy, (904) 206-0705 Edbowegolf.com Twitter.com/@bowegolf YouTube.com/edbowegolf      

July 5, 2012 - Leave a comment

Golf

Natural rejuvenation with
signature Natural Ion Treatment

An alluring hideaway tucked beneath the beautiful Florida live oak trees, guests of The Spa and Salon at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation are transformed into a state of relaxation upon entering our full-service luxury spa.  The meditation lounge overlooks the private gardens and glassy lake surrounding the nature-inspired spa. Focusing on natural treatments created to relax and rejuvenate our guests from head-to-toe, one of The Spa's signature services is the Natural Ion Treatment, creating a total sensory journey like none other. The Natural Ion Treatment blends therapeutic flower oils with an ion mist, boosting new cell growth, encouraging elastin production and providing intense hydration. The treatment begins with a 3-step exfoliation using rich plant sterols, arctic white peat and a wild cherry blossom rice buff. Following the exfoliation, guests relax with a refreshing body spritz formulated to revive the skin by creating a totally negative ion environment - emulating the natural feeling created where the ocean meets the shore or the moment just after an afternoon thunderstorm.  Your spa journey continues with a soothing 25-minute massage, followed by a cool down treatment using natural silk proteins and plum wine sugar acids. The service is available in 80 or 105 minutes.  Watch Jordan, one of the Spa's trained therapists, describe this signature treatment in a two part video.   The Spa and Salon at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation offers an array of pampering treatments from Swedish Massages and Aromatherapy Massages to Pampered Soles Pedicures, Soft Palms Manicures and a full-service hair salon.  Natural Ion Treatment: 80 min. $210 105 min. $265 Visit for a full list of treatments or call 904-432-2220 to book your reservation today!

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